Unfortunately, semi-truck accidents are an all-too-common occurrence. Trucks in Oregon often carry extremely large loads which makes them difficult to control in emergency situations. This recent settlement in Bend, Oregon is a good example.
Circumstances of the Accident
On the day of the accident, our client was driving an unloaded semitrailer for his employer. He was returning from a trip delivering a load of hay to Ellensburg, WA. On his way back, he stopped at Biggs Junction Pilot Travel Center in Wasco, Oregon and got in line to fuel up. At the same time, the bad driver was driving a semitrailer for his employer and was in the fuel line behind our client. Soon thereafter, our client looked in his side-view mirror and noticed driver of the other semi apparently “torqueing” his engine to such an extent that his semitrailer was jumping forward. In our client’s words “I knew he was upset. You could just tell the guy was upset that he was having to set back here in line, like the rest of all of us were.”
After his gas tank was filled, our client pulled his tractor trailer forward and stopped in a designated parking area. He left his truck and went inside the truck stop where he bought a hot dog and got a receipt for the gas he had purchased. He walked out of the truck stop, directly to his truck, climbed inside and started the engine. As our client turned his attention to his hot dog, the driver of the other semi pulled forward. As he was apparently attempting to maneuver around our client’s truck, the other driver cut a sharp right turn and ran his semitrailer into the truck cab in which our client was sitting. For unknown reasons, the other driver continued to accelerate his semi truck after impact. This continued force on our client’s truck cab caused it to rise into the air as it was dragged several feet sideways. The damage was such that our client was unable to put the truck in gear to move it away from the scene of the crash.
Our client felt significant pain after the crash but was uncertain as to the extent of his injuries. He thus waited to see his primary care provider until the next available appointment, the following Monday. At that appointment, he was diagnosed with brachial plexus lesions, neck sprain, cervicalgia, backache, contusions on multiple sites on his trunk and contusions on his face, scalp and neck. It was subsequently discovered that he had suffered left rotator cuff and labral tears that required surgery. He has also undergone multiple procedures in an attempt to address his neck pain, headaches and dizziness.
How We Became Involved
A lawsuit was filed, but the insurance carrier for the other truck driver denied liability. Apparently, the driver of the other truck told his boss that our client had run into him! In any event, because they denied liability, the insurance carrier was unwilling to settle the case. This had occurred while our client was represented by a predecessor firm. However, once the attorney who was handling his case retired, his firm decided that the case was too complex to keep, so they referred it over to our firm for litigation.
Additionally, because our client’s past medical history was fairly active, the other driver’s insurance company tried to argue that much of his symptoms were due to pre-existing conditions. Also, because this involved a fairly low speed injury, the insurance company took the position that he couldn’t have been injured as badly as he was. Likewise, because our client’s wage loss claim was difficult to nail down given his sporadic work history, the insurance company acted like he didn’t make as much as his tax records otherwise proved. In addition, because our client was on the job at the time, he had a sizeable Workers Compensation lien against his claim against the bad driver, even despite the Workers Compensation carrier sending Mr. Wilson in for numerous medical examinations with its doctors, who often questioned the relatedness of his symptoms. Needless to say, the claim had several speed bumps.
Our Course of Action
We took over the case and proceeded through litigation. We allowed our client to be deposed by the other driver’s lawyer – so that the truth could come out. We required the other driver’s insurance lawyer to turn over several documents that helped prove our case. Through our experts, we also determined just why our client had become so injured, even though the collision itself was at low speed. Finally, we worked with our client’s doctors to determine the severity of his injuries and what his future holds regarding the same.
We persuaded the other driver’s insurance company to attend mediation with a retired judge. After a nearly full-day mediation, we were able to settle our client’s case for $300,000. We were also able to reduce the amount of money he was obligated to pay back to his workers compensation carrier out of the settlement.